reaction paper on:
* “Signs of truth” by Michael Gilsenan,
* “Dreams that matter” by Amira Mittermair
* “An Enchanted modern” by Lara Deeb
Does modernity lead to the decline of religion? Is religion anti-modern? Are religion and modernity contradictory? Is religion irrational? These are the main questions raised by the three readings: “Signs of truth” by Michael Gilsenan, “Dreams that matter” by Amira Mittermair and “An Enchanted modern” by Lara Deeb. The first and second reading tackle many common points; on one hand, the “Signs of truth” tackles in its first part the relation between magic and religion, according to the reading, magic was part of religion in the backward stage of history. The world had witnessed different forms of purification struggles – post colonization and enlightenment movement- by both reforming religious specialists and many of their secularist nationalist opponents emerging intelligentsias against other specialists stigmatized as representatives of a darker backward stage of history. (Gilsenan, 2000, p. 601) The reading also demonstrates some of the magical practices that are still taking place in the 21st century in Egypt, for instance; illiterate simple people still attend the Saint’s celebration “Mulid”, perform formal visits to shrines asking for “El-baraka” and obey the orderings of sheikhs -or sometimes charlatans- who claim to be privileged instruments of transmission from God to the believers (Gilsenan, 2000, p. 606), in the hope of having their dreams come true. That provoked an important question in my head which is: has magic ever been part of religion even in the backward stage of history? For example, Muslims performing the formal visits to shrines, asking for help from people –dead or alive- besides God is in my opinion idolatry, which contradicts with the cornerstone of Islam “the oneness of God “, so how is it possible to say that it was part of it? Another point that grasped my attention was...
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